Poker Tips to make you a better player

Poker is the most popular card game at the casino and attracts millions of players worldwide. Whether you’re just starting out at playing poker or have played before, here are our top tips to becoming a better poker player.

Don’t play every hand

Probably one of the biggest mistakes that beginner and amateur poker players make is to play too many hands. If you cards just aren’t stacking up it is better to fold than to play the hand out. A good rule to follow is that if you are playing more than half the cards you are dealt you may want to look at your starting hand requirements.

Don’t drink too much

This is another common mistake, and because alcohol dulls the brain it can be a costly one. Even if a couple of drinks helps you to relax, it is not a good idea to drink, it can lead to more erratic betting and ultimately a bigger loss.

Don’t be afraid to fold during a hand

When you’re just starting out it is easy to think that just because you’re in the hand that you have to see it to the end. This can lead to a big problem especially if your cards are not that good. It is better to fold when you have the feeling that you are beat than putting any more money in the pot.

Pay attention to the other cards and players on the table

Poker is ultimately a game of skill and the more you know about the other players and the cards that have passed through the table the better the chances of winning. Watch how the other players are betting especially when you’re not in the hand; this can tell you a lot about their playing style and might shed some insights into any tells they may have.

Pick the right game

When starting out at poker it is important to play with players with a similar of worse ability than yourself. This will make the game more enjoyable because who wants to lose every hand or game they play.

Practise, practise, practise

As they say ‘practise makes perfect’ and it’s definitely true. Playing against your friends and family for low or no stakes is a great way to practise the art of poker. Playing on free internet tables is also a good way to gain some poker skills against real opponents without outlaying any cash.

Above all, have fun and start tuning your skills today!

Picture: Sergio Bertolini

Poker Hand Values

Poker has a universal set of rules used in both a casino and the typical casino online.  The lowest value is a high card.  If no players have any other hand, the winner is decided on the highest card, usually an ace.  The scale goes to a pair, with the highest pair of cards winning.  The next is three of a kind, providing three cards of the same value, with again the highest value winning.

The straight comes after the three of a kind in poker hand values.  This occurs when a player gets five cards with values one after another; therefore 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 would be a straight.  Straights use aces as high or low in hands of poker, so A, 2,3,4,5 counts as a straight as does 10, J, Q, K, A.  A flush occurs when one player has five cards of the same suit, so five spades counts as a flush and beats a straight.  A full house is the best known of winning poker hands, and occurs when a player has a three of a kind and a pair together.

The final three hands are quite rare.  Four of a kind occurs when one has every card of any given value for example K, K, K, K and any other card.  This can only beaten by the straight flush and royal flush.  The straight flush consists of any straight where the cards are the same suit.  A royal flush is also the same suit with the cards in the order 10, J, Q, K, A.

Picture: ps50mm

Online Poker – fun to play or watch

Poker is one of the most popular games in casinos.  Belonging to the family of card games, the winner is decided on the basis of the hand they have formed.  It has risen from being an entertaining game to a competitive sport.  The game involves skill, patience, psychology and thus has an adrenalin rush to it.  For new players the game does not have to be that intimidating.  Online poker gives the opportunity to play from the comfort of home, cuts the hassle of travelling, and removes any added expense you might pick up at a venue.  Free games are available for players to practise and hone their skills.  Online poker is designed to imitate real venues, giving a life-like experience.  Players can chat amongst themselves, share virtual drinks or just stand and watch the game.

Poker has its variants, namely Straight, Stud Poker, Draw Poker but the most commonly played is Texas Hold’em.  Most online casino websites offer betting bonuses to play. Upon joining, the player can choose from a list of tables to play. Tables can vary in the number of players, maximum pot and payouts. The latest websites use software that is fair and secure, giving players a satisfying experience. Since running an online poker table is more cost efficient than running a live poker table payouts are better.

Online poker has increased the popularity of the game by making it a spectator sport. Poker tournaments can now be watched on television and poker stars are now celebrities. Get online to play poker without putting up a poker face.

Picture: Mr Empey

Having fun with Video Poker

Video Poker is a whole range of online poker games played via an internet browser and it is also played on machines in casinos.  In either version, the game is a virtual, random number generated replication of the traditional poker card game played against the house by a single gambler. 

The machine form of video poker developed in the 1970s, when advances in technology made the union of a television monitor and solid-state processor possible. By the end of the decade, Las Vegas casinos featured machines playing a variant of five-card poker with people who either wanted a new slot machine-style experience or found the table version of poker intimidating. The game became a favourite in local casinos where, although prize money is lower, the odds of winning are better.

To enter a game, the player buys a block of credit with hands played for, say, 25 cents minimum bet.  Normally, stakes are in multiples of that sum. A random number generator, exposing the first five of the 52 (or 53 if playing a jacks wild game), deals the cards. To earn the maximum bonus wins, the player might consider always betting the maximum. The winning poker hands conform to the normal poker rules, with the winnings calculated according to their rarity.

There are many typical video poker games – Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Jacks Wild, Double Down Stud and many more, and multi-hand games as well. Games offer a theoretical return of around 99%, which means a player committing $100 (£65) will lose $1(65p) over the long run if they are a good player.

Red dog poker

This card game is a variation of in-between and acey-deucey.  It features prominently in online casinos although its popularity in land-based casinos seems to be waning.

Red dog poker
utilises a 52-card deck and one to eight decks may be used in a single game.  The cards are ranked in a similar manner to poker and aces have the highest rank.  Card suits are ignored in this game and only three cards are drawn at a time.  Once the player makes his wager, the dealer places two cards face up on the table.

If the cards have consecutive numbers, the hand is declared a push and the wager returned.  If the two cards are of the same value, a third card is dealt.  If this card also has the same value, the player receives a pay-out.  If the cards show none of these combinations, the dealer announces the spread, deals a third card and gives the player a chance to double his or her bet.  If the third card has a value that falls between those of the first two, the player wins and collects a pay-out according to the spread.

Texas Hold’em poker hands

Starting at the top and working down, the best hand you can get in Texas Hold’em is a Royal Flush.  This means all the face cards from one suit, consecutively numbered, starting with ace and ending with a ten. Technically, it’s the highest version of the straight flush.
 
Next best on the board is the Straight Flush.  Again, five cards in the same suit, numbered consecutively.  So, for example, five diamonds; three, four, five, six, seven.

Another hand, of less value, is Four of a Kind.  This is not four of the same suit, but for of the same value, for example four fours. Or four kings.  Four kings beats four threes.  The higher the cards, the better are your chances.  This rule is holds fast throughout poker.

Next best is the Full House – three of a kind, plus a pair.  Three threes and a pair of twos, for example, is a low full house which can be beaten by one which is higher, such as three kings and a pair of aces.

Five cards of the same suit make a Flush.  It is a nice hand, and often a winner, but not to be trusted.

A straight is five cards of different suits, numbered consecutively.  It is simple, exciting, but easily beaten.

Three of a kind can be three of any number, such as three twos, three aces, three kings.  It
is just like Four of Kind, but not as good.

Two pairs is often a winner, but not the best, so watch the betting and look out for half-formed straights and flushes.

A single pair makes the game worth staying in for, but if the betting gets outrageous, or there is clearly a straight or a flush in the offing, steer clear, there will only be trouble ahead.

A high card is the best card on the table, hopefully an ace. There’s a bittersweet nothing about a winning high card of an eight or lower.

Poker tournaments

No limits high stakes hold ‘em poker tournaments, like the World Series of Poker, are making ordinary non-professional players into millionaires. Tournaments have a buy in fee, for which, players are given an equal number of chips. The money is then pooled to form a pot, from which the tournament takes its percentage and the prizes for the winning players are given.

How tournaments work

Tournaments are either single or multi table. In single table tournaments there is a limit on the number of entrants. In multi table tournaments, as player numbers decrease, players can be moved around to keep table numbers even. Players in multi table tournaments and single table tournaments play until all their chips are gone. Once their chips are gone, a player is out and cannot buy more chips. Some tournaments allow re-buys or add-ons to players when their chips are low. This can add to the pooled money and increase prizes. Prizes in a single table tournament are usually given to the top three places, whereas in a multi table tournament prizes may be given as far down as 25th place.

The World Series of Poker

The World Series of Poker is the biggest championship in the game, with a buy in fee of £1 million in 2012. The World Series of Poker gave 11.1% of the buy in fee towards the One Drop Foundation and waived its normal 10% fee. The 48 seater event was filled and the record breaking $18.3 million went to winner, Antonio Esfandiari.

Playing Texas Hold’em Online

To come out on top when playing Texas Hold’em Poker at such sites as Intercasino, you need to approach the game in a methodical manner.  A player who takes wild risks and generally plays the game recklessly to try to win big will soon find their bankroll depleted.  Winning consistently is the main factor to enable a person to become a successful player.  This is much easier said than done.  If you lose all of your bankroll, you will not be able to play again until you find new funds.

Winning consistently over the long run requires a player to learn and study the game, and find winning strategies that work for them.  Many players like to bluff, but the simple truth is that if you cannot do it well, you will find you lose more than you win.  In this case, you need to stop bluffing or find a better strategy where bluffing is more effective.

Being able to play in different ways will allow you to compete in the varying circumstances you will find yourself in.  Employing the same tactic endlessly will normally result in losses in the end.

This is something you must understand when playing Texas Hold’em.  Protecting your bankroll is a crucial skill you will need as there are bound to be times when you do not win for long stretches.  These winning and losing streaks are normal.

Protecting your bankroll requires you to remain composed and to play in a similar way when enduring a bad patch.  This means do not start to bet more in an attempt to regain losses.

How to play Poker like a pro

Imagine poker and you may conjure up images of smoky saloons or huge tournaments where players can earn millions and coveted titles like the winner of the World Poker series. Thousands of poker tournaments are played each year, often with hundreds of players to begin with. Some are played by amateurs, others by professionals and some a mixture of both.

In the past they would have used actual money when playing, but now poker chips are used. These have different monetary values. Players have a ‘buy-in’ where they will put down money for a certain amount of chips. When they have run out of chips, they are out of the game. The winner is the one at the end with all of the chips.

There are several variants of poker with probably the most well-known being Texas Hold ’em. There are many rules and gameplays possible. Games are made up of rounds or ‘hands’. Players compete for the ‘pot’ which is the amount of money on the table at the end of each hand. Each are dealt two cards which no one else sees. Depending on their cards they will either put money in or fold, which means dropping out of that hand. Three cards are dealt face up which are community cards for everyone, known as the flop. Betting happens again. A fourth card, the turn, is dealt, followed by betting. A final card known as the river is dealt with a final round of betting. The highest hand will then win the pot. 

Playing online poker

The main difference between playing poker online and in a live game, is that the players cannot see each other. This changes the game, in that players are unable to read each other’s facial expressions and body language, which can help them decide how good an opponent’s hand might be.

Poker players who are unable to supress a grin at a great hand or hide their disappointment at a bad hand will benefit from playing online, rather than in person, as they could leap about the room in celebration and no one else would know. This makes the game all about assessing the cards rather than reading people; players must look for the possible hands that their opponents may have and what cards they are holding themselves and bet accordingly. It is great to have a full house, for example, but if four out of the five cards are on the table then it is fairly likely that other players have a full house too. Therefore, a smart player will also assess the chances that their hand is better due to having high face value cards.